We are devastated that our Borders store is closing down, but back in the summer I stumbled across a book by Adam Nicolson called 'Sea Room'*, all about the Shiant Islands, with their wild and rugged beauty, their puffins and their rats. I loved some of Nicolson's descriptions, but did not feel on balance that the puffins had as good a press as I would have liked (but then I may be biased, as those of you who have read my puffin posts will have realised!).
However, this book prompted me to seek out other books about the wild corners of Scotland's highlands and islands. If you like out-of-the-way places where the sea meets the mountains, you might enjoy the following books, too.
- Calum's Road by Roger Hutchinson (Birlinn Ltd), RAASAY (near Skye)
- I Remember: Memories of Raasay by John Nicolson (Birlinn Ltd), RAASAY (near Skye). I am just coming to the end of this fascinating memoir.
- For the Islands I sing by George Mackay Brown (Polygon An Imprint of Birlinn Limited (30 Jun 2008). I knew virtually nothing about George Mackay Brown until 'A Poet's Guide to Britain', the television programme presented by Owen Sheers earlier this year. I have not been to the Orkney Islands, but maybe one day I will venture out in that direction... THE ORKNEYS
- Sea Room by Adam Nicolson (HarperCollins Publishers Ltd) THE SHIANT ISLANDS
We left Sconser and the Cuillin mountains on Skye in misty sunshine, and thoroughly enjoyed the short CalMac ferry ride to Raasay...
... where - wonder of wonders - we were greeted by White-tailed (Sea) Eagles.
We drove along the road, passing this glorious inland loch...
... until we reached the eastern shore, and the landmark of Brochel Castle. David ran down to explore while I got out my watercolours and did a quick sketch.
We had not realised that we were so close to the start of Calum's Road, which is marked by the sign above and the cairn below.
The inscription on the cairn explains that the footpath to Arnish, a distance of one and three-quarter miles, was 'widened to a single track road with passing places and prepared for surfacing by Malcolm Macleod B.E.M. (1911-1988)', (aka Calum), who carried out the road-building work over a period of ten years. It was an extraordinary feat.
I love pigs - and I love unusual 'wildlife' road signs. This really made me smile! We didn't see any pigs, though, except...
... this one on another Raasay road sign. (Click the picture for a close view of the spots!).
We got out at the point where the road became impassable to motor vehicles, and found this spade propped up against the rock face. We just wondered if it might have belonged to Calum...
Do let me know if you have any favourite books about wildlife or off-the beaten track destinations.
I would also love to know what unusual animal road signs you have encountered on your travels.
* The expression 'Sea Room' is a nautical term.